AGEING IN INDONESIA, MALAYSIA & SINGAPORE
WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT FUNDERS CONSIDER ORGANISATIONS THAT ADDRESS THE CHALLENGE OF AGEING. IT IS A MASSIVE AND GROWING ISSUE, THAT IS STILL LARGELY OVERLOOKED, ESPECIALLY IN COUNTRIES SUCH AS INDONESIA AND MALAYSIA.
Few philanthropists in Southeast Asia have focused on ageing in the past. However, the issue is becoming harder and harder to ignore, in particular as Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia all face an increasingly ageing population over the coming decades.
With an overwhelming set of needs and relatively little action to date (especially in Malaysia and Indonesia), there are huge opportunities for philanthropists to achieve an impact in this sector.
KEY AREAS FOR FUNDERS TO SUPPORT
Seniors need purposeful activities to stay active and healthy. Empowering elderly people to take early action will help them maximise their own health, financial security and wellbeing as they grow old. Support is needed to engage hard-to-reach seniors, create appropriate jobs, learning opportunities and social activities, and reduce stigma.
Many elderly people will struggle to manage rising healthcare costs. Particularly at risk are those below the poverty line (around 1 in 10 of over 60s in Indonesia), or without some form of social security (over a third of Malaysian workers do not have pensions). In Singapore, donors may also look to support those seniors who are asset-rich, cash-poor and do not qualify for subsidised services.
This is an often neglected issue but is central to healthy ageing. Many elderly people suffer isolation or loneliness - reports suggest that more than 7% of elderly across these three countries live alone. Support is needed to engender a more proactive approach to isolated individuals, increased access to specialised counselling and greater opportunities for social support and interaction.
Dementia affects hundreds of thousands of people across the three countries, with the numbers forecast to rise dramatically in the coming years. To deal with this huge burden of care, there is a pressing need for more initiatives to support people with dementia as well as their caregivers and families.
Long-term care refers to a broad set of support that an individual may start to require as their physical or mental capacity declines. For example, it can include: practical support with daily activities, social support and interaction, rehabilitation and other types of therapy, nursing, and medical care. The rising demand for and cost of long-term care poses perhaps the greatest challenge within the entire discourse on ageing.
End of Life Planning and Care
Palliative care is a holistic approach to caring for patients going through serious illnesses. It aims to meet all needs (physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual) so as to alleviate suffering and maximise the quality of life for patients and their loved ones. There is increasing evidence to show that people could benefit from improved access to palliative care, but it is not yet widely available or understood.
IF WE HAD A MILLION DOLLARS…
There are many things we would like to do, but perhaps our priority would be to fund an organisation in Indonesia where we feel there are the greatest unmet needs out of the three countries that we have reviewed.
Within Indonesia, there are very few non-profit organisations explicitly tackling any of the issues relating to ageing. We would love to see some of these trailblazers professionalise and further scale up their impact. For example, Alzheimer's Indonesia, which has been a leading light in championing the issue of dementia to the general public and policymakers, as well as developing much-needed models of caregiver support.
We would provide multi-year core funding, coupled with strategic advice and support to help the organisation reach even greater heights.
In 2017, Just Cause published a giving guide report on ageing, "Silver threads among the gold: Philanthropy and ageing in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore". The report was prepared for the Seventh Credit Suisse Philanthropists Forum on "Healthcare Giving in Asia" in November 2017. It aims to furnish potential donors to this sector with a summary of the main issues and some inspiration on possible ways to give.
The report is structured in two parts – the main section includes an overview of the issues for each of the three countries, together with commentary on possible approaches to giving in this sector. The accompanying annex includes profiles of 15 non-profit organisations (five in each country) that are working on the ground to tackle some of the issues raised.
It is based on interviews with over 30 leading experts, including policymakers, academics, clinicians, and philanthropists. The expert interviews were supplemented by analysis of five non-profit organisations in each country, selected to cover a range of different goals and approaches. For each country, this primary research was further supported by a literature review of policy documents, academic articles, non-profit research reports, and other relevant material.